India’s relationship with Jordan has always been characterized by warmth and goodwill based on mutual respect.
India’s religious plurality and success in fighting off the influence of Islamist terror groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS will be highlighted as Jordanian King Abdullah II delivers a special address at Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan on Thursday. King Abdullah will land in Delhi on Tuesday for a three-day visit, the Ministry of External Affairs announced.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who met with King Abdullah in Amman earlier this month, will also attend the function organised by the India Islamic Cultural Centre on March 1, where the Jordanian King will speak on “Islamic Heritage: promoting understanding and moderation”, to an audience that includes academics and Islamic scholars, as well as representatives of all denominations of the Muslim community.
“[The King] has personally chosen to give this address in Delhi, as Jordan has studied how India has been able to avoid the threats from ISIS and other groups,” an official involved in the planning of the visit said here on Monday.
King Abdullah, who is himself the 41st generation descendant of Prophet Muhammad and the Custodian of the Holy Sites in Jerusalem, has taken a leadership role in countering extremism and radicalization in the Arab world through what is known as the “Aqaba Process” initiative, officials said.
Although Jordan is home to about 2 million Palestinian refugees and more than 6,60,000 refugees from Syria, it has remained peaceful compared to the rest of the region and is seen as an “oasis of stability”, the officials added.
During the event, which officials said was the “first of its kind” for New Delhi, King Abdullah will also release an Urdu translation of his cousin Prince Ghazi Bin Mohammad’s book “A thinking person’s guide to Islam”, which includes a chapter on Jihad and the “Crisis of ISIS”, detailing how countries like India have escaped Jihadist influences due to the moderate, “or Hanafi, non-Takfiri” form of Islam followed in the country.
The Jordanian King will be in Delhi from February 27 to March 1 and will hold bilateral talks with PM Modi on March 1, before the address.
According to the officials, the two sides are discussing a framework agreement on defense and security, and the Deputy National Security Adviser has held several talks with the Jordanian Director of Intelligence.
Any agreement will be significant, given Jordan’s close ties to Pakistan in the past, and officials stressed that the discussions had only been initiated.
Earlier this month, King Abdullah had also paid a visit to Islamabad.
After talks with PM Modi, the two sides are expected to announce a number of agreements, including one to set up a “centre of excellence” in Amman by the Pune-based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), a partnership agreement between heritage cities Petra and Agra, as well as a visa agreement to facilitate businessmen.
One pending issue not yet resolved is on the resumption of direct flights between Delhi and Amman, which were shut down when Royal Jordanian Airlines ended its service in 2014.
On Wednesday, King Abdullah will visit the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi to “explore collaborations with Jordanian technical institutes” and address a business summit which will include about 30 businessmen from Jordan, a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs said on Monday.
India is Jordan’s 4th largest trading partner, but bilateral trade, which is mainly dependent on fertilizer imports, dropped drastically from about $2.2 billion in 2014 to $1.3 billion in 2017, and both sides will discuss how to improve business ties.
While the visit will focus on bilateral issues, the two leaders are also expected to discuss the Palestinian peace process.
“PM Modi’s recent visit [to Jordan and Palestine] gave momentum to the fact that India continues its very strong traditional support to Palestine, and this will definitely come up in the discussions [with King Abdullah],” said a source involved in the planning, but ruled out any plans for India to mediate or facilitate Israel-Palestine talks at present.